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Losing a Child: Always Andy's Mom

As a pediatrician, married mom of three biological children and one foster son, my life was busy, rushing off to my office four days a week, seeing patients for three and working as a medical director of a local physician organization for one. I balanced this with rushing off to shuttle my kids to after sports and other after school activities. All of this changed one day in August of 2018 when my 14 year old son, Andy, was killed in a car accident. I felt like my life was over, and in some ways it was over, and a new life was forced to begin in its place. 

Grief is seldom discussed openly in our culture, and the death of a child makes people feel even more uncomfortable. On this blog and podcast, ‘Losing a Child: Always Andy’s Mom’, the topic is approached openly and honestly, speaking to people who have lost loved ones and experts who help care for them. Whether you are a parent experiencing loss or someone who wants to support another going through this tragedy, this blog and podcast strives to offer hope and help.

Jun 29, 2023

I love how timing so often works out perfectly. Tracy should have been on the podcast months ago, but due to computer issues, this episode comes out one week after our coping strategies one. Tracy's daughter, Katie, was a girl with a smile that would light up a room. She was an inspiration to many as an amazing friend, mother, and police officer. In fact, Tracy said that Katie was so kind that when she would make an arrest, by the time they got to the police station, the arrested person would be apologizing to Katie for not being nicer to her.

After Katie was killed in the line of duty, Tracy felt incredibly alone. Tracy shared that her feelings of grief and loneliness led her to turn to alcohol to numb the pain. Using a combination of alcohol and prescription anti-anxiety medication, Tracy tried to push away all of the feelings thinking that this strategy would help her grief. Over time, however, Tracy realized how wrong she was. 

What really struck me is the way that Tracy got out of this self-destructive cycle. It is like she took Jami's three keys from last week on how to cope when grieving and put them into action. This is, of course, not the case. Tracy turned her journey around many months ago now and I actually had that conversation with Jami several weeks after this interview. When listening to Tracy again though, I see just how true Jami's words were.

Tracy showed all three points perfectly. First, Tracy was gentle with herself. She didn't stop drinking all at once. She slowly started drinking less and replaced the drinking with positive coping strategies. Second - Tracy found a community to support her. She joined an AA group of grievers and became especially close with other grieving moms. Third - She started moving her body. Tracy had a good friend and a fellow grieving mom invite her to start walking, and they began to faithfully walk each day. It was only after this that the alcohol and drug use was able to totally go away. 

I know that Katie is smiling down from heaven, proud that her mom is now an inspiration to others as well.